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  • Writer's pictureTemara Willis

The Crucial Role of a Support Person in Family Mediation

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Illustrating the vital support person's role in family mediation.

As a Family Mediator at Adelaide Family Mediation, I've had the privilege of helping countless families navigate through difficult times and reach amicable solutions. One topic that often arises in our sessions is the role of a support person during family mediation. Is it necessary, and how does it impact the mediation process? In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits and potential drawbacks of having a support person present and whether their attendance requires the other party's permission.


The role of a support person


A support person, often a friend, family member, or advisor, plays a vital role in family mediation. Their primary purpose is to offer emotional and moral support to one of the parties involved. Family disputes can be emotionally charged and challenging to handle alone. A support person can provide comfort, reassurance, and perspective during mediation sessions, helping their loved one stay calm and focused.


Do you need permission for a support person's attendance?


The presence of a support person is typically encouraged in family mediation, but it's important to ensure the process remains fair and impartial. You must advise the mediator if you plan on having a support person in attendance in advance who will seek the other party's agreement. This helps maintain transparency and fosters an environment of cooperation, which is crucial for successful mediation.


The Benefits of Having a Support Person


  1. Emotional Support - Family disputes can be emotionally draining, and having a support person can provide the emotional backing needed to navigate through challenging conversations.

  2. Reduced Stress - A support person can help manage stress and anxiety during mediation, allowing the parties involved to focus on finding solutions.

  3. Enhanced Communication - Having a support person present can facilitate better communication between the parties. They can assist in conveying thoughts and concerns effectively.

  4. Objective Perspective - Support persons can offer an objective viewpoint, helping their loved one see the bigger picture and consider alternative solutions.


The Potential Drawbacks


While support persons can be incredibly valuable during family mediation, there are some potential downsides to consider:


  1. Interference - In some cases, a support person may become overly involved and hinder the mediation process. It's important for them to remember their role as a supportive observer, not an active participant.

  2. Additional Tension - If the other party feels uncomfortable or threatened by the presence of a support person, it may create tension and hinder open communication.

  3. Confidentiality Concerns - Support persons should be reminded of the importance of confidentiality during mediation. They should not disclose any sensitive information shared during the session.


The role of a support person in family mediation is undeniably significant. While their presence can bring many benefits, it's crucial to strike a balance between support and interference. Open communication and cooperation between all parties are key to a successful mediation process. Informing the mediator in advance is a courteous and constructive approach. Adelaide Family Mediation is committed to facilitating open, honest, and effective mediation, ensuring families can move forward with solutions that work for everyone.



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